Post-exams: What next?  

Exams are finished Now that I am done with my exams, like many of you must be, my post-exam routine is a go-to activity. It is a ritual that I have perfected over the course of four years studying two different degrees through the University of London. The primary goal for this meditative process is to achieve a closure with the previous academic year. It always allows me to move on to the next task with a fresh perspective.

The first thing that I do once I’m done with my last exam, and I will not deny that we all don’t love good food, is go out for lunch. After all these days of self-imposed exile and possibly sleep-deprived nights, we deserve a treat. Having a nice meal at a place serving my favourite food refreshes me.

Quote: Happiness is having finished your examsHowever, as soon as I reach home, I fall asleep like a log for several hours (or possibly years). The marathon study sessions over the course of the past few months will have taken a toll on my sleeping pattern.

The next few days, I allow some time to catch up with friends and family.

Then I am faced with the pile of notes, books and files that sit on the desk. I really need to tackle these before I can do something productive now that I have happily let a few carefree days pass by. This is what my to-do list generally looks like at the end of May every year:

  1. Return books to the library.
  2. File loose papers. Remove/recycle the unnecessary paper waste that I will not refer to again.
  3. Place my books and files that I will not be referencing in the next year in boxes. Label them with a list of contents for easy access.
  4. Place the sealed boxes in the loft.
  5. Keep my admissions notice and number in a clear file for accessing results.

With the ground cleared for new ideas, books and activities to take place I explore the next steps of what I have planned. Since this year I am beginning graduate studies in English at a ‘brick and mortar’ university, I am spending my time perusing reading lists and also preparing the obligatory documentation.  Buying or borrowing books is also something that I have always done post exams. Reading through the summer always helps me stay on top of my syllabus for the next year.

The most important piece of advice is that once the final exams are done, it is not really helpful to worry or overthink about results. What is important is that you recognise the hard work you have done. You recognise the sacrifices you have made to study. You express gratitude to the people who have made it a little bit easier: be it your parents who encouraged you, be it your partner who made that essential midnight cup of tea, be it your children who gave you the joy to keep on or be it your friends who celebrated your excitement and enthusiasm about the degree with equal energy.

It is also vital to understand that two digit grades are not going to make or break you but rather that you chose to do this degree to fulfil your aspirations. Your results will be commensurate with the work you have done throughout the year: a University of London degree is so fairly assessed to such academic standards that if you have studied as expected in the subject guides, there is no way your effort will go unrecognized. You will definitely be rewarded with a fair assessment. If due to unforeseeable circumstances you were unable to put in the time and effort that would have made you confident about your exam performance, do not worry. Things don’t always go as planned but that is alright. Going through the process of studying and sitting arduous exams is already one step closer to your dream.

What is beautiful about University of London students is that most of us are studying of our own accord. Some are mature students who have decided on studying something that they have always loved. Some of us, like me, chose the path as an unconventional means of gaining a degree while pursuing other careers in fields such as performing arts. Others have decided on a career switch to allow them to transition into a more suitable position that they aspired towards. Thus, all of us have chosen the University of London to achieve our dreams and goals. It is not an obligation but a choice. It is a classic example of what William Ernest Henley said as a paean to self-motivation in his poem ‘Invictus’: ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’ So having the right frame of mind and balanced perspective of how you measure success will immensely help in making this an enjoyable period of your life.

Almost there signMost University of London students have qualities of independence, determination and hard work because they see their degrees as a stepping stone to fulfilling their dreams. I sincerely admire my classmates for inspiring me throughout these years with their vibrant stories from across the world. We have all watched the graduation ceremonies on YouTube haven’t we? So don’t forget, you’re almost there. Time will fly by so it’s key to make the journey a happy one for yourself and for those around you who have supported you throughout.

With this note, I wish you all the best. Enjoy the spring and cheers to the end of the academic year!

Until next time,


Fiana is enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in International Relations. She previously earned a BA English degree with the International Programmes and is studying independently in Canada.

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